House Appropriations keeps moving on FY21 funding billls

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The full House Appropriations Committee pressed on with its goal of passing Fiscal Year 2021 funding bills, turning on July 13 to the appropriation for the Departments of Education, Labor and Health and Human Services.

During a lengthy markup session, the committee considered budgets for several of the HHS component agencies most responsible for coordinating the government’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was ultimately approved by a vote of 30-22.

Public health agencies such as the National Institute of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which have grabbed headlines for their role in issuing guidance and information about the coronavirus, were front and center in the bill that was reported out of subcommittee on July 7.

If approved, HHS would receive $96.4 billion for FY21.

The bill also includes $73.5 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Education. It proposed increasing billions in funding to a number of educational programs the White House had proposed eliminating, such as several grant programs to fund state and local education agencies and programs.

In addition to pouring more money into worker protection agencies, the Labor Department’s bill would increase funding for unemployment insurance, with a budget of $2.6 billion.

Since the passage of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act in March, the U.S. economy has undergone a steep decline and witnessed huge numbers of unemployment, particularly in the public education sector.

If the Labor-Education-HHS bill becomes law in its current form, state governments would be given $925 million in emergency contingency funding to help address a deluge of unemployment claims.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, state and local governments have reported that aging technology and a higher-than-usual volume of unemployment requests have crippled information technology systems.

In May, the House passed the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, which would give $1 trillion in relief to state and local governments to cover funding shortfalls, though the Senate has yet to consider the bill.

About the Author

Lia Russell is a former staff writer and associate editor at FCW.


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